Archive for the jazz Category

Marshall Allen / Kash Killion: “Two Stars In The Universe”

Posted in 33 rpm, Free Jazz, jazz, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by crownpropeller

As vaguely announced at the end of this post, my friend Hubi and me along with sound engineer Dario went to Poschiavo in summer 2012 to see the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Maestro Marshall Allen and make a recording of  Allen to be released on a limited edition vinyl LP.

Crown Propeller’s blog announces that this record, “Two Stars in The Universe”, featuring duets by Marshall Allen with masterful cellist, bolon/bolong and sarangi player Kash Killion, will now be released as Little Rocket Records LP001 on May 22nd!

So what does it sound like? Have a glimpse at our little  promotion video to get an idea:

Note though, that the sound on all video clips in this blog post is directly from the camera’s microphone. The LP sounds much better. A short mp3 excerpt from the original master can be had on request.

cover-goldLittle Rocket LP 001 will be released on May 22nd, 2014

So how did this come to happen? My friend Hubi  and me are long time devotees of that cosmic being called Sun Ra. And we both developed a deep love for the idiosyncratic sound of  alto saxophonist and now Arkestra leader Marshall Allen.

So when in spring of 2012 we heard that the Arkestra will be accompanying two theatrical productions during three days at the Uncool Festival  in Poschiavo (at the the south-eastern end of Switzerland), we had the idea to record Allen playing solo, since we wanted  to capture his sound pure and unaccompanied. Since we both are also what you would call vinyl junkies it was decided there and then that we will be trying to release a limited edition vinyl LP and found a little record company that will exist until the copies are sold out.

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Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012

We decided to try to reach Marshall via Cornelia Müller who runs the Uncool Festival. Finally a week before the Poschiavo event,  Marshall let us know through Cornelia that he was ready and willing. Cornelia promised to get a room organized for thursday, June 21. So Hubi, me and our engineer Dario on wednesday made the six hour car ride to see the Arkestra’s evening show and record Marshall the next day.

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On the way to Poschiavo in the beautiful Poschiavo valley

I had become sick a day right before our trip and had a bad fever when we arrived in Poschiavo and were told by Cornelia that it was hard to organize a room and that maybe we should ask around the small village for a room to record in on the next morning. I thought: ok, this is the end of our little adventure, as I could not imagine knocking at unsuspecting people’s doors and asking them if we could maybe record some free jazz in there barn or their living room. Nonetheless I managed to enjoy the three hour Arkestra gig that evening. Marshall – at that time 88 years old – was blowing, directing the band, singing, dancing all evening through without ever sitting down for a minute – clearly music is his fuel. Excerpts from that concert can be found here.

marshall_on_stageMarshall Allen fronting the Arkestra in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

marshall_on_stage_2Marshall Allen on stage in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

I had a sleepless, fevery night and on the next morning Dario, our italian speaking and good looking sound engineer, talked a hotel maid into letting us use the Hotel’s diner room. But then on our way to breakfast we met Cornelia again who told us that she managed to get a room anyway and Marshall would be ready to meet us at 12 o’ clock.

 

spazioLo Spazio in Poschiavo

The room turned out to be Cornelia’s living room in her house and artists’ space “Lo Spazio”. The room had very beautiful acoustics – so we were happy. But then Marshall appeared and told us he really was not in the mood for playing solo since he needs (an)other person(s) to react to: “I am a band musician”. So this again sounded like the end of it – but we had the  idea to ask Marshall if there is someone in the band he’d like to record in a duo context with. Marshall said that yes, he’d like to record with Kash Killion who is playing cello with the Arkestra on and off since 1991. This sounded very promising to us, so we gathered some more cash together to be able to pay Kash something as well.

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Sound engineer “Il Nuovo Presidente” Dario and Marshall Allen

We phoned Kash who was ready to come over from his hotel at once and brought along his cello, a Sarangi – the queen of indian instruments because it is so close to the human voice (Killion has studied  the instrument with the great indian master Ali Akbar Khan) – as well as a Bolong (also spelled Bolon) – a harp from west africa that also functions as a percussive instrument when you hit the neck and the gourd.

setting_upSetting up: Dario, Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Marshall and Kash played beautiful improvised music for two and a half hours without ever talking about what to play next and visibly having fun all the while. We just sat there in awe not daring to interfere or make any suggestions like true producers are supposed to do (or are they?).

sessionOff we go: Marshall Allen and Kash Killion at the Little Rocket Records
recording session, Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Here’s a little view into the recording session, Marshall Allen on flute and Kash Killion on Sarangi playing an improvisation they later titled “India Reflections”:

happyIt’s done: Marshall Allen, Armin Büttner, Hubi Horst and Kash Killion,
Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

¨allenkilliondarioAfter the session: Marshall Allen, Dario and Kash Killion

 Apart from choosing the tracks for release we did not do any editing or massive post production. We just choose complete tracks as Dario recorded all of this so perfectly – standing in a half bowed, body devastating position in front of the musicians all this time, a little digital recorder in his hands.

“Two Stars in The Universe” as the LP was titled by Marshall and Kash is a beautiful, surprisingly quiet and moody but also very joyful record of many colors. Besides alto saxophone and flute Marshall also plays one of those old small Casio keyboards. I always think he is channeling messages from Sun Ra with it. If you listen to his Casio playing on “Cosmic Blues-Life Of Two”: Hearing the rattling sound of it’s keys struck by Marshall, you’ll notice that he uses the same fluttering up and down hand movements  that he uses when producing the freaky alto sounds he is known for. Here is an excerpt from “Cosmo Blues-Life of Two”:

 

I had to be back at the office the next day, so we had to return. But after I told my girlfriend about the experience, she went down to Poschiavo for the last Arkestra show a day later. After the – again very long concert – Marshall and Kash Killion sat down stage front after most people had already left and played kora and bolon for a while. You can see again that they really enjoy playing together:


(Video courtesy of The Sun Ra Arkestra)

All 250 copies of the 180 gram vinyl  LP  “Two Stars In The Universe” have handprinted (silk-screened) covers. Some are printed in gold on black, some in silver, blue, or white, we think it came out very nice. Here is a little clip from the silk-screening process. Music for this video is an excerpt from an unreleased track, recorded with a photo camera after session for the LP had already ended.

silk_screenBeautifully designed (thanks, M.!!!) and freshly silk-screened

Unfortunately this did not make the thing cheap. This beauty will cost 35 Dollars (postage – which is high – not included). This will hopefully allow us to get back our expenses if nothing more.

The record will be officially released at the Arkestra concert in Zurich on May 22nd, Sun Ra’s 100th Arrival-on-Earth-Jubilee. Since there is no real distribution, the way to go is contact me directly if one wants to obtain a copy. Please use the comment section of this post to get in contact.

Enjoy!

Meeting Mr. Andrew McGhee

Posted in Andy McGhee, jazz, Lionel Hampton with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by crownpropeller

DSC_5552(Click to enlarge):Andy McGhee (ts) and Claude Diallo (p) at Schloss
Wartegg, Rorschacherberg, January 26, 2014. Photo: Armin Büttner

Two weeks ago alto saxophonist and jazz researcher Mario Schneeberger, his wife Christel and me went to the Schloss Wartegg in Rorschacherberg for a CD release party by swiss born pianist Claude Diallo who is a Boston resident now. This afternoon concert was a bonus event to a mini-tour of switzerland that Claude Diallo had organized for legendary tenor saxophonist Andrew “Andy” Mc Ghee (born in 1927). McGhee was a member of Lionel Hamptons’ orchestra from 1958 to 1964. He then played with Woody Herman until 1966 when he joined the faculty of Berklee College of Music, where he still is listed as Professor Emeritus. Continue reading

R.I.P. Roy Campbell jr.

Posted in Billy Bang, clips, jazz, Roy Campbell with tags , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by crownpropeller

royRoy Campbell jr. in Leverkusen, November 1, 1986

It is only just now that I hear of the passing of trumpeter Roy Campbell jr. who died on January 9th – the same day that Amiri Baraka passed. Campbell only reached the age of 62. I saw him playing on two or three occasions in the 1980s and remember liking his playing very much. Wanting to listen to him again now, I find to my surprise I unfortunately have not one record featuring him. But only some weeks ago I happened to digitize a brilliant 45 minute TV broadcast with the quintet of another Great Black Music Legend, Billy Bang, who already had left us in 2011.  Campbell is the other main solist besides Bang.

So here is the Billy Bang Quintet at the Jazztage Leverkusen on November 1, 1986. Besides Bang and Roy Campbell the band contains Oscar Sanders (g) William Parker (b) and Zen Matsuura (dr).

Enjoy!

Have you seen the jazz yesterday?

Posted in Abdullah Ibrahim, Chico Hamilton, clips, Eddie Harris, jazz, Lou Donaldson, Solomon Burke, Soul with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by crownpropeller

louLou Donaldson on a Swiss TV show, 1987

Maybe it is unfair to say “there was a time when more jazz was featured on TV”. I would not really know, because I stopped watching TV a while ago. Of course here in switzerland there is still some jazz on the public TV, late at night at some time.

But in the 1980s there was still some jazz to be seen and witnessed by people who did not expect to be treated with jazz when they turned on the TV. There were some broadcasts on swiss TV which you could say were in some kind of “magazine” format. Maybe some news from different regions, a talkshow guest, a funny report — you get the picture. At the end they always had a short slot for musical artists of every genre that  happened to be in Switzerland – just a few minutes to promote their tour.

My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, must have scanned the TV program magazines every week to see if an interesting (interesting to him that is) band or musician would appear – since he managed to tape quite a lot of this jazz, blues and soul bits. I am offering you a little potpourri here of different things you could see – if you were aware when and where to look.

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More McCoy Tyner Montreux 1973

Posted in clips, jazz, McCoy Tyner with tags , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by crownpropeller

I really thought I was finished with digitizing all the McCoy Tyner Video I found on my friend’s old VHS cassettes. But I discovered that there is even more footage from Montreux 1973 than I thought.

Continue reading

Welcome to the Crown Propeller Lounge again!

Posted in 78 rpm, documents, jazz, King Kolax, Photographs, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2013 by crownpropeller

crown_propeller_black_silver

(Click to enlarge) Sleeve for souvenir photographs from the Crown Propeller Lounge, unidentified date. From the Crown Propeller collection

The Crown Propeller Lounge – after which this blog is named – was one of Chicago’s most important venues for R’n’B and Jazz during the 1950s. You can read more about it on my old blog entry here. After reading that post, Mike Medina (aka WayoutWardell) contacted me and identified more of the people pictured in this gorgeous photo, donated to the Crown Propeller blog by the Schlossberg family (also check the comments section over there for more interesting information from Mike).

cp 1

(Click to enlarge) Dancer Lupita Peruyero, Joe Louis, Norman Schlossberg, Sarah Vaughan, King Kolax and Mitzi Mars at the Crown Propeller, probably 1952. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family

I had recognized trumpeter King Kolax and boxer Joe Louis with Crown Propeller owner Norman Schlossberg and Mike added the name of dancer Lupita Peruyero (far left) who was a regular at the Crown Propeller and knew that the lady on the far right is singer Mitzi Mars – of which I had presented some music in my old blog entry about the CP.

cd_52_05_31

From Chicago Defender, May 31, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”

Mike also kindly allowed me to use the photo of this bautiful  foursome at the Crown Propeller in 1945 – a time when the main audience of the CP was still white.

8434880768_7eda29c458_oEnjoying an evening at the Crown Propeller Lounge, 1945.
From the collection of Mike Medina.

If you are interested in photographs from Chicago’s South Side, you definitely should check Mike’s Flickr page. It was also Mike who alerted me, that the sign of the Crown Propeller lighting up can be seen in the opening sequence of the old “Crime Stories” TV series. I managed to find that one on youtube. I edited the CP part and let it run backwards and forwards – the way it possibly was. I guess there was something in the middle as well (a crown, maybe?) – I leave it to your imagination.

Ending up our second visit to the famed Crown Propeller Lounge is photo of a young couple at the bar, probably in the 1950s.  This was stuck in the souvenir envelope pictured at the very top of the envelope.

happy couple crown propeller_2
From the Crown Propeller collection

Who might they have listened to on that evening? Rudy Greene maybe, the “King Of The Guitar”?


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From the Crown Propeller Collection

cpadChicago Defender, February 13, 1954

Enjoy!

Max Roach: The bigger Max

Posted in clips, jazz, Max Roach with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by crownpropeller

roachpicMax Roach at Jazz Festival Montreux, 1971

From the early sixties on (check his Impulse! album “It’s Time”) drummer Max Roach started to work with larger formations than his quintet (or quartet) from time to time. He added choirs for several recordings and in the 1980s he sometimes added a string quartet (mostly the Uptown String Quartet in which his daughter Maxine played) to his quartet with Cecil Bridgewater, Odeon Pope and Tyrone Brown.
As far as the larger Max Roach groups are concerned, there seems to be not much footage around on the internet. So I am happy to offer you three actually quite long clips here you may not have seen before.

The first one is Max Roach featured with the Northern Colorado University Big Band at the Jazz Festival Montreux one June 15, 1971. They are playing a very churchy suite here (see comments for possible titles).Pianist/organist is Stanley Cowell, the trumpet player / conductor is Charles Tolliver (thanks, Trane!). I can not identify any of the other band members (are you out there?).

The other  two clips are from nineteen years later. First are more than 56 minutes of the Max Roach Double Quartet at the Jazzgipfel in Stuttgart, 1990 – I do not know the exact date. You’ll see and hear Max Roach (dr), Odean Pope (ts), Cecil Bridgewater (tp), Tyrone Brown (b), John Williams (violin), Cecelia Hobbs (violin), Maxine Roach (viola), Eileen Folson (cello). Sorry for the abrupt ending, the cassette ended here, and I did a short fade out.

In the same year Max Roach also took a large choir – The John Motley Singers – along with his quartet and pianist George Cables to Europe playing two hour concerts at the Jazz Festivals in Umbria and Verona in Italy and Lugano (Switzerland). You may have heard  part of the material on the Enja 2CD set “To The Max!”. The Lugano concert on June 29 was broadcast in full on Swiss TV (do not worry, the voice-over soon stops):

Enjoy!

Some more McCoy Tyner

Posted in clips, jazz, McCoy Tyner with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by crownpropeller

tynerpiccMcCoy Tyner at Jazztage Stuttgart, 1990

Right after I had finished this post. naturally I found even more footage of McCoy Tyner.

In 1989 Tyner was touring the European Jazz Festival circuit with his Trio featuring guitarist/singer George Benson as an added attraction. I have presented footage from their gig at the Montreux Jazz Festival in my last entry . But i found more. Here are over 40 minutes of George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Avery Sharpe, Aaron Scott playing in Umbria, Italy:

And here are sixteen minutes of the same band playing at the Jazz Festival in Wiesen, Austria:

The final part of this little McCoy Tyner Showcase is his Trio – still featuring Avery Sharpe and Aaron Scott –  joined by Freddie Hubbard and Ralph Moore. This footage comes from the Jazztage Stuttgart 1990.

Enjoy!

McCoy Tyner in the 70s and 80s

Posted in clips, jazz, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2013 by crownpropeller

Revision Note (Jan. 11, 2014): I have replaced the clip from Umbria 1985 with a working version.

tynerpicc

McCoy Tyner at Jazz Festival Montreux, 1973

Still in the process of cutting large movie files taken from VHS cassettes into  clips, I noticed that my friend, the late Otto Flückiger has quite a lot of concert footage with bands either led by pianist McCoy Tyner or featuring him prominently. The reason for so much footage with Tyner in Otto’s collection is not necessarily because Otto was fanatic about Tyner.  Otto taped everything from the TV that was in what way ever connected to Jazz. And McCoy Tyner made a lot of tours in the 1970s and 1980s, his group was a regular feature on Jazz festivals around the world. So it really is no wonder that there is a lot of McCoy here.

Mainly to get a grasp of what is there, I have extracted all of the McCoy Tyner footage on these cassettes. Now that I am finished doing so, I thought why not present these rare clips on this here blog.

So here we go, starting with the earliest footage I found of one of Tyner’s own groups. Here is the McCoy Tyner Quartet at the  Jazz Festival Montreux, July 7, 1973

The band consists of Tyner (p), Azar Lawrence (sax), Juini Booth (b), Alphonse Mouzon (dr). The way I understand it, parts of this concert also have been released on an LP. Since I do not own this one, I can not tell you what exactly is being played here.

Going on chronologically we stay in Montreux with a clip from July 18, 1981 showing the concert of a band called “The New York – Montreux Connection:

The band: Arthur Blythe, Paquito D’Riviera, Jimmy Heath,Percy Heath, McCoy Tyner, Chico Freeman, Slide Hampton, Phil Woods, Ronnie Burrage, John Blake, Stanley Cowell, John Hicks, Steve Mc Call. Note that there is also an unidentified alto saxophonist taking a solo later in the program. He is adressed as “Paul ….”, but I can’t understand his last name. So if you have an idea …

Next are more than fifty minutes of the McCoy Tyner Quintet at the Saalbau in Aarau, Switzerland, on February 24, 1984:

The Quintet in this clip: McCoy Tyner (p), Gary Bartz (sax), John Blake (violin), John Lee (eb), Wilby Fletcher (dr).

In 1985 McCoy Tyner was in Europe again, with a new trio featuring bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Louis Hayes. At their apperance at the Estival Jazz in Lugano Pharoah Sanders was featured with the band. But the concert was started by the trio alone:

I do not have the whole concert, just three different parts from three different source VHS cassettes. The chronologically next portion of the Lugano concert is the one that features Sanders. I had alredy presented that one here some time ago, but for the sake of completeness, here it is gain:

I do not know if Pharoah Sanders was featured even longer on this concert, all that is here is the encore from that gig, featuring just the trio again:

Next up are two clips from Italian TV. Unfortunately quality is not too good here. Here are Tyner, Sharpe and Hayes at the Jazz Festival in Umbria 1985:

And here they are a year later at the Jazz Festival in Pescara:

In 1986 the trio also appeared on the German TV series “Jazz im Subway”, the Subway being a Jazz Club in Cologne:

I just have this excerpt from the show, showing McCoy playing a solo version of “You Taught My Heart To Sing” (Notice the funny subtitle, maybe someone from the TV station did not like the music?).

Last but not least a clip that was a personal surprise for me in more than one way. First: I did not know that Tyner played with George Benson – which he apparently did more than once. Secondly because I had dismissed George Benson as being  xxx (well I do not want to hurt any sensitive George Benson fans). But I actually like this one very much:

The above clip comes from the 1989 Montreux Jazz Festival. Besides Benson and Tyner you will see and hear bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Aaron Scott.

Enjoy!

Frank Foster Big Band at the Village Vanguard 1980

Posted in documents, Frank Foster, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2013 by crownpropeller

As promised in this post, I am reposting the images from the performance by Frank Foster’s “Living Colours” Big Band at the Village Vanguard on April 4, 1980 – this time with some music.

About 70 minutes of music from this evening survive on a tape that has been digitally transferred to CD by Otto in the early 1990s. While the original tape box does not carry information at all, some information is attached to the CD.

frank_foster_cover(click to enlarge)

The rudimentary CD cover can not be trusted though. For example Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” which I am presenting you here, is not the second track on the CD, but the first. Likewise Title 5, “Joy Spring(s?)” is indeed a “Minor Blue Waltz”, at least in form and content. I will have to bring this in a meaningful order some day …


So here are all of Otto’s photos from the April 4 1980 concert again. If you can identify anyone for sure, to help get rid of the question marks on the CD’s listing, please let me know (but please check the comment section from the old blog entry about this event first).

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

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